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Big Scary Daemons

Michael Lucas' series on BSD, including hands-on tutorials and tips'n tricks.
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Running Commercial Linux Software on FreeBSD
One intriguing feature of the BSDs is their ability to run binaries for Linux distributions. This can be very useful for running commercial software. Michael W. Lucas demonstrates how to configure and use the Linux compatibility layer on FreeBSD. Jan. 12, 2006

Building Detailed Network Reports with Netflow
You can trace every packet on your network from source to destination, if you really want to. Having all of this information is useless unless you can actually find what you need to know. Netflow not only helps record traffic information but also can help you report on just the types of packets you want. Michael W. Lucas demonstrates. Oct. 27, 2005

Visualizing Network Traffic with Netflow and FlowScan
SNMP and MTRG can tell you what your network is doing, but they don't always give you the details you need. Netflow does--but sometimes a pretty graph says more than thousands of lines of log output. Fortunately, Michael W. Lucas shows how to use FlowScan and CUFlow with Netflow to see the traffic on your network. Sep. 15, 2005

Monitoring Network Traffic with Netflow
SNMP and MTRG can tell you what your network is doing, but they don't always give you the details you need. Netflow does--but it has a complex setup and configuration. Fortunately, Michael W. Lucas shows how to install and configure modern versions. Aug. 18, 2005

Information Security with Colin Percival
The recent disclosure of side-channel techniques to retrieve cryptographic secrets on hyperthreading machines caused stirs in security and operating system development communities. Colin Percival, a FreeBSD security officer, reported the vulnerability and weathered the questions and criticisms. Michael W. Lucas recently interviewed him on this vulnerability, vendors' responses, and security research. Jul. 21, 2005

Diskless, Low-Form-Factor OpenBSD Systems
Running a low-power, low-maintenance PC can make your life easier in many ways, but managing and upgrading its Compact Flash cards can be frustrating. What if you built a diskless box that could boot from the network? Michael Lucas shows how to build a Soekris box running OpenBSD that boots over the network. Apr. 29, 2004

Mail Server Filtering
Free operating systems are immune to the latest Windows viruses, but that fact doesn't keep our inboxes clean. If your BSD or Linux box receives mail for other clients, filters can help them, too. Michael Lucas demonstrates how to use MIMEDefang, SpamAssassin, ClamAV, and Sendmail to filter unwanted mail. Apr. 1, 2004

Homemade Embedded BSD Systems
BSD runs nicely on older PCs, but they can be noisy and time-consuming to set up. Worse yet, the hardware may be at the end of its life. Is there a better alternative to dedicated (and closed) hardware devices? Michael Lucas demonstrates using BSD on a low-power, low-fuss Soekris box. Mar. 11, 2004

Printing Clients and Servers
Though plain-text configuration files often work nicely, some Unixisms are terse -- printcap printer configuration comes to mind. They're not as bad as they seem, though. Michael Lucas explains how to configure printers and print clients, even printing to multiple printers on separate networks. Feb. 5, 2004

Printing for the Impatient
While Unix has roots in document formatting and layout, configuring printers has always required more black-arts arcana. This hasn't been helped by the appearance of low-cost commodity WinPrinters. Fortunately, tools like Ghostscript, gimp-print, and Apsfilter make configuring printers much easier. Michael Lucas demonstrates quick and dirty -- and working -- printer configuration. Nov. 6, 2003

Expanding Small NetBSD Systems
Now that you have NetBSD installed on your palmtop, what will you do with it? Customizing and enhancing the installation can be tricky, but what if you had access to much more disk space? Michael Lucas explains how to enhance your palmtop experience with NFS support, so you can build and install software. Sep. 25, 2003

Palmtop NetBSD
"Of course it runs NetBSD." NetBSD's fantastically portable, but that doesn't make it supremely easy to install on oddball hardware like a Dreamcast or a palmtop computer. Michael Lucas demonstrates cross-installation with the HP Jornada 728. Jun. 5, 2003

Staying Current with NetBSD
Open source never stands still. Even the flexible and mature BSDs are continuing to evolve. In this article, Michael Lucas looks at the NetBSD upgrade process, demonstrating the most common steps to stay abreast of the current source code. Apr. 10, 2003

Creating Systrace Policies
The systrace project is spreading from Open and NetBSD to other free Unixes. Having introduced systrace in a previous column, Michael Lucas demonstrates how to write a systrace policy from scratch -- or use an existing one. Feb. 27, 2003

Systrace Policies
NetBSD and OpenBSD have an interesting new system policy manager called systrace. With the proper policies, system administrators can control which system calls can be made and how. Michael Lucas explains how this works and how to understand -- and write -- a good policy file. Jan. 30, 2003

BSD Disk Images
One of the best features of the free Unixes is customizability. The boot process is no different. In the latest installment of Big Scary Daemons, Michael Lucas demonstrates how to create disk images in OpenBSD and how to create your own custom boot floppy. Nov. 21, 2002

Who Has Which Files
Michael Lucas tackles the problem of unmounting a busy filesystem. Determine who the culprits are who are holding the files open using fstat. Sep. 26, 2002

Sudo Aliases and Exclusions
The hardest part to using sudo is configuring sudoers, its permissions file. Michael Lucas shows how to simplify sudo maintenance and clean up your sudo configuration using aliases. Sep. 12, 2002

Eliminating Root with Sudo
As the system administrator, you're stuck between deciding to hand out the root password or doing everything for your users. A third solution is sudo. This article shows you how to implement sudo, which you may already have, since it is integrated into OpenBSD and Mac OS X and is an add-on package for just about every other Unix-like operating system out there. Aug. 29, 2002

Using Groups to Eliminate Root
Strategic use of groups can eliminate the need to give the root password to people, but still allow them to do their job. Aug. 15, 2002

Installing OpenBSD 3.1
Michael Lucas relates his experiences installing OpenBSD. Jul. 25, 2002

Understanding FreeBSD Disklabels
A disklabel is a file at the beginning of a disk that indicates where each BSD-style partition begins and how many disk sectors it occupies.  Jun. 27, 2002

Dual-Booting FreeBSD and FreeBSD
Michael Lucas explains how he dual boots FreeBSD-Current and FreeBSD-Stable. May. 16, 2002

Testing FreeBSD-Current
Running FreeBSD-Current isn't for the faint of heart. Michael Lucas explains who should be testing it and how they can be effective testers. Apr. 18, 2002

System Panics, Part 2: Recovering and Debugging
In Michael Lucas' last column, he showed us how to prepare a FreeBSD system in case of a panic. In Part 2, he explains how to get some useful information if you do suffer a system crash. Apr. 4, 2002

System Panics, Part 1: Preparing for the Worst
System panics are an admin's worst nightmare. They are difficult to diagnose and often harder to fix, requiring developer intervention. The more information you have available, the easier it is to recover from a panic. Michael Lucas shows us how to prepare a FreeBSD system in case of a panic. Mar. 21, 2002

BSDCon 2002
Michael Lucas reports on what was hot at this year's BSD conference, from kernel internals and FreeBSD's PC Card system to documentation translations and BSD at work in clinics. Mar. 7, 2002

Understanding NFS
Michael Lucas introduces us to the world of network filesharing for Unix. Feb. 14, 2002

How to Become a FreeBSD Committer
Michael Lucas commits code and explains how to create an SSH key. Jan. 31, 2002

Contributing to BSD
Michael Lucas shows what it takes for non-coders to contribute to BSD. Jan. 17, 2002

Finding Help on IRC
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is somewhat like computer geek CB radio. Michael Lucas gives a few pointers on getting started, as well as sharing his own experiences connecting to the FreeBSD help channel. Jan. 3, 2002

The Back Road to Browser Plug-Ins
Looking for web browser plug-in support on FreeBSD? Michael Lucas shows how he got things running. Dec. 13, 2001

Cleaning Up Ports
Managing third-party applications on your BSD server or desktop can be quite daunting, especially because open-source projects are upgraded frequently. Michael Lucas introduces us to some utilities that can keep this from becoming a nightmare. Nov. 29, 2001

Stable SMB
SMB has recently improved to the point where it is reliable enough for use in production settings. Michael Lucas tells you how to use SMB to access a Windows share from your FreeBSD workstation. Nov. 15, 2001

The Price Quote of Freedom
When proposing a free software solution to upper management, it is important to put together a realistic appraisal of the costs involved. Michael Lucas walks you through the process and helps you find hidden costs. Nov. 1, 2001

Selling BSD
When arguing for building corporate solutions on BSD, you can cite reliability and ease-of-use, but the commercial solutions spend a lot of money creating that exact same image. With BSD, the burden of proof is on you. Michael Lucas looks at how to prove yourself to managers and present your case. Oct. 18, 2001

Dealing with Full Disks
Are your hard disks getting full? Michael Lucas helps us track down and recover lost disk space. Sep. 27, 2001

Ripping MP3s
Michael Lucas takes us on his quest to turn CDs into MP3s on his FreeBSD machine. He shows how to tackle problems encountered when working with free software. Sep. 13, 2001

CVS Mirror
Running a cvsupd server isn't an easy task, but here's some help to make it simpler. In this edition of Big Scary Daemons, Michael Lucas continues his series on CVSup in Big Scary DaemonsAug. 30, 2001

CVSup Infrastructure
Michael Lucas explains CVSup and the infrastructure required to distribute the FreeBSD source code globally. He also relays information on the use of CVSup from its creator John Polstra. Aug. 16, 2001

Controlling Bandwidth
How do you control someone's incoming bandwidth? Michael Lucas details his adventures regulating bandwidth to a virtual host. Jul. 26, 2001

Controlling User Logins
Michael Lucas explains how to restrict shell access to a system using as few system resources as possible. Jun. 28, 2001

Rotating Log Files
Log files collect data and grow in size. If you don't tend them, they will fill up all available disk space. Michael Lucas explains how to easily manage log files with newsyslog. Jun. 14, 2001

System Logging
Michael Lucas explains how syslog can be used to centralize system logs for a variety of servers. May. 17, 2001

BSD Tricks: CVS
Most open source projects use CVS to coordinate the efforts of the thousands of volunteer developers. Michael Lucas shows us how to get started using CVS. May. 3, 2001

Setting up Wireless Cards on FreeBSD
Tired of tripping over Ethernet cables stretched across the house? Michael Lucas show us how to configure wireless Ethernet cards on a FreeBSD laptop. Apr. 19, 2001

Wireless Networking
Michael Lucas gives us an overview of wireless networking in FreeBSD. Apr. 5, 2001

FreeBSD Gaming
Michael Lucas takes us on a tour of what's available in the way of games for FreeBSD. Mar. 22, 2001

Submitting Changes
Every BSD project actively seeks out user contributions. Michael Lucas tell you how to get your work noticed and accepted by committers. Mar. 8, 2001

Changing FreeBSD Documentation
If you want to update FreeBSD's documentation yourself, you must first have all the right tools. Michael Lucas shows you how to use FreeBSD's DocBook format. Feb. 22, 2001

The FreeBSD Documentation Project
Michael Lucas introduces us to the FreeBSD documentation project and helps us install a local copy. Feb. 8, 2001

Modifying a Port
Michael Lucas continues his developer's tour of the BSD ports collection and shows us how to contribute to the project. Jan. 25, 2001

Fine Control of Ports
Michael Lucas continues his developer's tour through the ports system and explains how to set the more common variables. Jan. 4, 2001

BSD Ports Collection Basics
Michael Lucas takes us on a developers tour through the BSD ports collection. He introduces how the ports collection works and identifies some of its key components. Dec. 21, 2000

BSD Tricks: Unprepared Disaster Recovery
Michael Lucas takes us through every network administrator's nightmare -- a server crash. He documents an actual crash and tells what he did to get things back online. Dec. 7, 2000

BSD Tricks: Linux Compatibility, the Hard Way
BSD provides very advanced Linux compatibility. Michael Lucas embraces this concept and explains how to run BSD and Linux at the same time. Nov. 16, 2000

Laptops, PC Cards, and FreeBSD
Michael Lucas shows us how to connect a BSD laptop to the network using a PC Card NIC. Nov. 2, 2000

BSD Tricks: Introductory Revision Control
Use built-in revision control to track changes made to files and control editing by multiple users. Oct. 19, 2000

Customizing mrtg
Part II in setting up BSD as a network status monitoring system using mrtg. Michael Lucas shows us how to custom tailor the mrtg reports. Oct. 5, 2000

Long-Term Monitoring with SNMP
Michael Lucas shows us how to use mrtg to turn long-term SNMP statistics into easy-to-read web pages. It will even chart bar graphs. Sep. 21, 2000

BSD Tricks: MFS
MFS lets you use system memory like a hard drive. Michael Lucas explains how to use it wisely. Sep. 7, 2000

NetBSD for the FreeBSD User: Building a NetBSD kernel
Michael Lucas compiles a custom NetBSD kernel on an Alpha Multia. He details the differences a person familiar with FreeBSD might run into. Aug. 24, 2000

Talk the SNMP Talk
Michael Lucas continues the lesson in SNMP by configuring the SNMP daemon. Practical security measures are also discussed. Aug. 10, 2000

Walk the SNMP Walk
An introduction to the Simple Network Management Protocol and some of its uses as a data collection tool. Jul. 27, 2000

Experiments in SMB
Almost everyone has an NT or Windows system they'd like to access from BSD.The FreeBSD Project's Boris Popov has been working on Samba filesystem support, so a BSD user can mount a Windows share. Jul. 13, 2000

NetBSD for the FreeBSD User: Customizations
Turn a stock NetBSD installation into a usable machine. Includes basic configuration and installation of important software packages. Jun. 29, 2000

Installing OCSweb on FreeBSD
The OCSweb package allows users to post messages, read and send e-mail, and keep calendars, all via a web browser. Unfortunately, it only runs on Linux. Michael Lucas shows how even a non-programmer can sometimes port an application to FreeBSD Jun. 15, 2000

NetBSD for the FreeBSD User
A walk through of a NetBSD install by an experienced FreeBSD user. Jun. 1, 2000

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